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Ghent United Methodist Church

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1919–1922, 1924, Peebles and Ferguson. 1961, renovation and steeple replacement, Lublin, McGaughy and Associates. Southeast corner of Stockley Gardens and Raleigh Ave.
  • Ghent United Methodist Church
  • Ghent United Methodist Church

Stockley Gardens is a formal greenway that extends the open vista created by the western boundary of the Hague several blocks northward into the heart of north Ghent. The gardens are divided into northern and southern sections, each extending for several blocks, and they are joined along the axis formed by Blow Street. The northern section is predominantly residential. The southern section is home to several of Norfolk's most prominent religious institutions, and it is also the setting for the city's finest essay in City Beautiful planning.

The pairing of Temple Ohef Shalom and its neighbor, Ghent United Methodist Church, is a potent symbol of Jewish-Christian ecumenism in a city of long-standing religious tolerance. The design of each building speaks of the infinite adaptability of classicism to varying symbolic and functional needs. The continuity of design is no doubt due to the involvement of Finlay F. Ferguson, Sr., who left one partnership to form another in the years that intervened between the two commissions.

Following the 1916 fire that destroyed the Palladian Revival sanctuary of Temple Ohef Shalom (1902, John Kevan Peebles) in downtown Norfolk, the temple moved to the quieter surroundings of Ghent. The design of the new Temple Ohef Shalom is an adaptation of a Roman temple to suit the liturgical needs of a Reform congregation. A hexastyle limestone portico with fluted Ionic columns and pediment dominates the west facade of the building. Three entrances lead into the sanctuary at the lower level, and five windows covered by grilles are visible between the columns at the upper level. The walls of the building are constructed of tan brick with limestone detailing. Along each side the sanctuary windows, filled with translucent slag glass panels, extend to nearly the full height of the building.

The Ghent United Methodist congregation, founded in 1902 and temporarily housed in a Victorian Gothic building, decided in 1918 that it needed a new church. The model for the resulting building is more specific than that of its neighbor: James Gibbs's St. Martin-in-theFields, London (1721–1726), one of the most widely copied churches in Christendom. The building materials and the proportions of the church and its attached portico are nearly identical to those of Temple Ohef Shalom, but the details vary considerably. The columns are unfluted Corinthian, and the tower and a steeple atop the portico clearly identify the ecclesiastical function of the building. Along the sides of the building are two levels of windows, which indicate the presence of interior galleries. The church was extensively renovated in 1961, at which time the green aluminum steeple, similar in form to the original copper structure, was installed.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Richard Guy Wilson et al.
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Citation

Richard Guy Wilson et al., "Ghent United Methodist Church", [Norfolk, Virginia], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/VA-01-NK74.

Print Source

Buildings of Virginia: Tidewater and Piedmont, Richard Guy Wilson and contributors. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002, 430-431.

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